Vettel on pole for Malaysian Grand Prix
23 March 2013 – Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix during a rain-hit qualifying session at Sepang on Saturday afternoon, overcoming his rivals on the Intermediate tyres. The Red Bull driver, who delivered a fastest time of 1:49.674, will start just ahead of Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
With rain arriving at the tail-end of Q2, the Intermediate tyres were in use for the entirety of the top ten shootout. Having struggled for pace in the dry conditions, Vettel made what turned out to be a cunning tactical call by pitting for rubber while most of his rivals continued. The reigning World Champion's final lap put him almost a second clear of Massa, who maintained his advantage over team-mate Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton completed the fourth row of the grid for Mercedes, with Mark Webber fifth after choosing a different qualifying strategy to his team-mate. Nico Rosberg, who topped a predominantly dry Q2, had to settle for sixth, falling down the order on the Intermediates. Lotus driver Kimi Räikkönen fared even worse, with seventh a disappointing outcome for the Finn after he topped Friday's running.
It was a much better day for McLaren, with the Woking-based team capitalising on the changeable conditions to make Q3 for the first time this season. Jenson Button got the better of team-mate Sergio Pérez en route to eighth place, while Force India driver Adrian Sutil, who was the surprise pace-setter in Q1, sandwiched the pair.
The biggest names to drop out of the second qualifying phase were Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta, with both men expected to progress to the final shootout before the rain fell. Grosjean will start 11th ahead of Nico Hülkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Gutiérrez, while di Resta makes up row eight with Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, who failed to post a time during the 15 minute session.
At the rear of the grid, Jean-Éric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas failed to make it past the Q1 hurdle, albeit by narrow margins. A little further back, Jules Bianchi continued to impress in the battle between Marussia and Caterham; the Frenchman finished almost a second clear of compatriot Charles Pic, with team-mate Max Chilton a further two tenths back. Dutchman Giedo van der Garde completed the order.
Sunday's 56-lap Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang gets underway at 4pm local time (GMT +11) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature